Archive for April, 2007

Singapore

Walking down the street you get hit with the smell of incense, burning in pots against the side of the road while Chinese youth are eating Malay food while mixing with Indian immigrants. Across the street the celebration of Vesak Day brings a flood of worshipers to the Buddhist temple, looking to continue their old traditions and celebrate Buddha’s birth; next door to a Hindu temple that is quiet until activity rages around Deepavali. Walking this area you hear the smattering of languages, of which English is not the majority, and you see, feel, and hear the pulse of old Singapore and a cross-section of Asia. Go further and you start to see the entrepreneurs, the independent shop stall owners hawking their wares, lined up along the street or under the large tent. And again, you see that a lot in Asia, people starting to take those risks and strike out on their own, stepping away from the safety nets of working for someone. A little further and you get to the gleaming shopping malls, the consumer-oriented, ultra-modern stores that rival or surpass any malls in the US or elsewhere.

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Seattle

Rain. Gray skies… chilled weather. Damp. Walking through a drizzle in the blue hooded sweatshirt I wore everyday, the one where I can hear the zipper bouncing against my hip – a friend always referred to it as my “80’s jacket.” All the bars I liked were dive bars, I’d walk in for their 11 pm happy hours and cut through the cigarette smoke and feel a wave of relief and letting go when I’d see my friends sitting there. Have a drink or two while talking about the random stupid stuff that happens in everyone’s life – and it feels comfortable, a sense of belonging. After a couple drinks, I look around and though it’s like any other group of 20-somethings huddled together in a bar, I feel potential, that any one of these friends I’m with have the ability to do something incredible, and perhaps it’s even me. And those thoughts are strong enough to have me leave with a smile. And even though it’s raining, cold, and bleak there’s still the feeling that Seattle is an unbelievable place.

ReadyBoost using any USB stick

Just filing this away for a rainy day… if you’re using Windows Vista you can take advantage of the ReadyBoost feature.  Plugging in a USB memory stick (or SD / Memory Stick /etc.) will supplement the main system memory with the amount of flash memory on the stick.  However, it has been limited to work with only the high-speed USB sticks.

Windows Vista Magazine brings us a nice tweak on how to Use any USB stick to ReadyBoost your computer.

Lime Juice Night Safari

Tonight I went to the Night Safari. I’m a big fan of the night safari. Been there 10 times at least.

They have made a lot of changes in the past year. Since me and my friend from Taiwan had not eaten dinner, I thought why not eat at the Night Safari? It has a pleasant atmosphere and one can get a smattering of local dishes.

Admission fee is 20 sgd. That seems reasonable.
If you want the tram ride, that will be an additional 8 sgd. Ok, it’s a 45 minute ride and is worth it. The commentators are wonderful.

Feeling hungry? A chicken rice set will set you back 16 sgd. A little pricy, almost crossing the line to price gouging, but… because it is a tourist attraction, I can understand a high price.

Thirsty as well?

EIGHT DOLLARS FOR A GLASS OF LIME JUICE.

WHAT ARE THEY THINKING?!?!? 8 DOLLARS FOR A SMALL GLASS OF LIME JUICE. LIME JUICE. LIMEEEEEEEEEEE JUIIIIIICCCCCCCEEEEEEE.

It’s not beer, it’s not wine, it’s not some fancy fruit cocktail. It’s lime juice.

For a second I forgot I was at the Night Safari. I thought I was at a Sim Lim shop getting fleeced because of my foreign accent. Except the difference was that I couldn’t hope to bargain the price down.

I consider myself a staunch supporter of the Night Safari. So when something like this happens, it makes me feel disillusioned and disappointed with the tourist attraction. I can understand charging higher prices – the advantage of being out there in the middle of nowhere, providing a unique sight for visitors, etc. but they’ve overshot with the price. So high that it probably discourages people coming back multiple times – at least for the food. I definitely won’t be eating there again.

And it’s not because I’m cheap – it’s because I don’t like being figuratively kicked in the stomach and robbed.

On another note, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, also at the Night Safari is 4.50 sgd for a scoop. Reasonable!

If airlines were Southeast Asia travel options

Ok, I know I vented a little bit on the previous post regarding Lufthansa and how poor they are compared to Singapore Airlines.  Now I’m going to proceed to vent some more – perhaps this one will be more appealing to those of you who prefer visuals.

Singapore Airlines
 
This encompasses the Singapore Airlines experience.  No hurry, perfectly fine to dawdle.  You’re comfortable, soaking in the environment… lollygagging away watching their movies, listening to music, eating the delicious meals… simply letting time sail by you before you get to your next destination.  Ah, who knew the skies could be so peaceful?

Lufthansa

Ok, it’s rather crowded, but at least the people are nice.  We’ll get through this.  Everyone just keep smiling – we’re in it together.  Note baby on the right side that will start screaming when we start moving.

Any US Airline (except JetBlue)
 
Sardines in a can.  No one is happy except for the jerk (attendant) at the front of the vehicle.  Simply because he’s paid to work on this thing while the rest of us paid to be crammed into it.  Are we there yet?  My rear hurts.  And the person next to me keeps touching me.  There’s no food.  I hate you.

Another reason for Singapore Airlines
 
I love you.

Singapore Airlines vs. The World

On my flight from Paris back to Singapore, I realize just how much I do like Singapore Airlines. I’m flying on one of their new Boeing 777-ER’s. Finally, an airline that has ordered a plane designed for a passenger’s comfort and not just to transport people in the sky like cattle. Herd them in and lock them up seems to be the regular mentality, but with Singapore Airlines, even the economy class borders on being enjoyable.

Compare Singapore Airlines to another Star Alliance carrier, Lufthansa. I flew Lufthansa from Washington DC to Frankfurt (en route to Paris last week). That was one of the worst flights of my life. The service was fine but every other aspect was terrible. The seats were designed for people smaller than even me – and this is by a country whose people are known for their heft. I don’t know what they were thinking. No matter how you sit, your shoulders and arms will still be bumping into your neighbor. There is no sense of your own space, the seats are so small that you are squeezed into your neighbor’s space (and vice-versa). Terribly uncomfortable and impossible to sleep. It really does make one feel like just an animal in a cage.

Singapore Airlines – WIDESCREEN tv monitor at each seat. Fantastic entertainment selection (I’m listening to a custom playlist of audio tracks I built from the 100s of albums they have in their system) and I’ve watched 4 movies on this flight so far. Again, contrast that with Lufthansa where you get… one tiny monitor at the front of the cabin that everyone has to strain to see. Pick a movie? Fast forward or rewind? Get real.

So yes, I love Singapore Airlines (and this is without even getting into their stellar food and flight attendants). I feel bad for other airlines because they can’t be Singapore Airlines. I feel bad for other airlines that they can’t even come close. I especially feel bad for other airlines if they don’t at least aspire to be like Singapore Airlines.

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Ok, that’s enough effusive praise for now.

On this flight I am sitting in the last row – with two seats all to myself. Sitting right in front of the area where people can stand and relax as well as wait in line for the bathroom.

The bad thing about watching tearjerker movies is that all these strangers milling about and waiting for the bathroom glance over and see you trying to blink away the tears. How embarrassing.

(Even more embarrassing is that this is from watching Adam Sandler’s “Click.” Damn movies where they promote it as a comedy and it turns into a drama… gets me every time – i.e. “The Break Up”).

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A 12 hour flight to Singapore. I would do this in a heartbeat over another 7 hour flight with Lufthansa.

Oh – and a note to Delta and the other bankrupt airlines… you’re going bankrupt for a reason. Primarily because you guys suck even more than Lufthansa.

Life?

I hope I’m in stage two.

 

(Unknown source)